BRISTOL - High school students who attend the planned Memorial Boulevard Arts Magnet School will continue to get their core subjects at their regular high school, in a model similar to Bristol Technical Education Center.
The city and Board of Education are collaborating on the planned transformation of the old Memorial Boulevard School into an arts magnet school for grades six through 12. The architect, Farmington-based Quisenberry Arcari Malik LLC, has estimated the arts magnet school could be open by August 2022.
Superintendent Susan Moreau said the programming committee for the arts magnet school recently toured the Waterbury Arts Magnet School. The committee is now working with the architect “trying to figure out what classroom spaces and large area spaces we need in the building to support the program that will be developed,” she said.
“We’ve determined that our high school students will receive their core education, which is their English, social studies, math and science, at their home high school, and then their arts strand at the magnet school,” she reported to the school board recently.
“This is very important in terms of the board being able to staff the school, so they won’t need additional staff for the high school academic core program,” she continued. “It’s very much in tune with what Bristol TEC does. Those students come to their high school and get their core, and then go to Bristol TEC for their technical education strand, whatever they have chosen.”
Middle school students who attend the arts magnet school will receive a sampling of different arts subjects, as they do at the existing middle schools, “so that they can make a choice as ninth graders as to what pathway they want to pursue,” she said.
Moreau stressed that the arts magnet school will not be just an arts performance school.
“We’re talking about a school where students will learn all kinds of design skills, using technology, that are applicable to many different careers after high school,” she said, citing ESPN as a workplace that needs people skilled in lighting, sound production, camera work, etc.
Chris Wilson, school board chairman, said the city’s arts magnet school committee has chosen a joint venture between Downes Construction Co. and D’Amato Construction Co. to renovate the old school.
The committee interviewed four firms that were all highly qualified. The members unanimously chose Downes and D’Amato because D’Amato recently renovated the old Jennings School, which is of similar vintage, and Downes has built many school across the state, and is in the process of building two for the Capitol Region Education Council, Wilson said.
The school board also heard from Julianna Larue, a recent Bristol Eastern High School graduate who now attends Southern New Hampshire University, about her proposal to put a “green roof” on Memorial Boulevard or other local school buildings.
In college Larue is studying environmental science with a concentration in sustainability and a double major in political science. She said she wrote a research paper on green roofs in her first semester.
A green roof is basically a garden on top of a roof, she said. “It’s simple but there are many aspects to it.”
It can have any types of plants, but usually plants that can survive during the winter to reduce maintenance, she said. It can help purify water, increase biodiversity, save buildings money on electricity, and contribute positively to people’s health by encouraging them to experience nature, she added.
She said she has been discussing the idea with Logan Zdun, BEHS student representative to the school board, Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu, her former AP Environmental Science teacher Elizabeth DiLernia and others.
“We did look at solar panels about 10 years ago and we found that we couldn’t do it because of the weight,” Wilson told her. “I’ll be very interested to read your report because I think there probably is some positive sentiment for this. Especially now that we’re doing the Boulevard this would be an opportune time to provide that idea to our architects to see if they could build that into the plan.”